Some reflections worthy of exploration from the evolving science of positive psychology blended with considerations on art, personal development, and age-old wisdom, such as the value of resilience. Framed with a variety of twists and turns via the associated links, making for a nice Sunday afternoon contemplation if you take your time to follow the threads…
“I am becoming increasingly aware of how much energy it takes for me to run through my own inner labyrinths. What does that look like in everyday life? For me it might be avoiding the one phone call that could bring me some answers. Looking at my sketchbook longingly but deciding that I have ‘more important’ things to do while the baby naps. Nodding my head in agreement to something someone says when my heart is saying the opposite.”
“I keep returning to the theme of resilience. Resilience is a process of moving through difficult or traumatic experiences and adapting and growing. Resilience can be cultivated in individuals and strengthened. Part of that process involves helping clients realize the ways in which they are already resilient.
“Within the predominant medical model of mental health, there is usually a focus on ‘what’s wrong’ with people and how to fix it, rather than ‘what’s right’ with people. I believe that a well-rounded approach to mental health must embrace both areas. All of us have room for improvement, but it’s also important to spend time acknowledging the strengths and positive qualities that we already possess.”
“Several truisms underpin positive psychology. First, what is good in life is as genuine as what is bad — not derivative, secondary, epiphenomenal, illusory, or otherwise suspect. Second, what is good in life is not simply the absence of what is problematic. We all know the difference between not being depressed and bounding out of bed in the morning with enthusiasm for the day ahead. And third, the good life requires its own explanation, not simply a theory of disorder stood sideways or flipped on its head.
“Positive psychology is psychology — psychology is science — and science requires checking theories against evidence. Accordingly, positive psychology is not to be confused with untested self-help, footless affirmation, or secular religion — no matter how good these may make us feel. Positive psychology is neither a recycled version of the power of positive thinking nor a sequel to the secret.
“So far, the science is impressive. Consider what has been learned in recent years…
- Most people are resilient.
- Happiness, strengths of character, and good social relationships are buffers against the damaging effects of disappointments and setbacks.
- Crisis reveals character.
- Other people matter mightily if we want to understand what makes life most worth living.
- Religion matters.
- And work matters as well if it engages the worker and provides meaning and purpose.
- Money makes an ever-diminishing contribution to well-being, but money can buy happiness if it is spent on other people.
- As a route to a satisfying life, eudaimonia trumps hedonism.
- The ‘heart’ matters more than the ‘head.’ Schools explicitly teach critical thinking; they should also teach unconditional caring.
- Good days have common features: feeling autonomous, competent, and connected to others.
- The good life can be taught.”